There is a slight difference in everything that you do when you become aware of your own personal branding. Whether you know it or not, your action or lack thereof has created a brand that represents you to the rest of the world. When you ask someone “What type of person is he/she?”, listen carefully because they will be describing that persons’ personal branding of themselves. All brands whether good or bad or even personal or business are built and cultivated over time based on habits and choices. It’s that simple, I kid you not, it really is. Take sometime to ask yourself what do people say when asked to describe you. Is it “hard working” and “trustworthy” or is “lazy” and “incompetent”, because that is your brand. Now this principle is magnified 10 times over when applied to business, which can have high stakes such as losing your home because the money invested in your business was borrowed against your home, but then the business failed. It’s tough in the real world, and branding is your best chance of not just surviving but thriving and flourishing. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, branding matters because it is what sets you apart, it’s what makes your business unique which allows you to acquire ‘mental real estate’ in the mind of the consumer. Branding isn’t focused on making huge gestures or giant leaps of faith, branding is consistently doing the little daily, weekly, monthly and yearly things in a particular way creating a synonym between your product/service and an idea. Some examples are NIKE - Athletic Champions and APPLE - Innovative. Branding can also be used to create a synonym between your product/service and a tangible item. One example is the brand Q-Tip - the item’s real name is ‘cotton swab’, but in everyday life we refer to ALL cotton swabs as Q-Tips.
This is an excerpt on 10 tips to create your own brand identity:
Branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for big names. Indeed, many corporate brands try to look more like small firms in order to appeal to consumers that prefer to support independent brands.
Many small business owners I talk to already understand that branding is essential to their business, but a surprisingly high number of them don't really know why.
They recognise the link between successful businesses and strong branding and aspire to build a brand that emulates similar success for themselves. And they understand that branding is not just a logo or how their business is perceived externally. But too few realise that successful brands have this branding at the heart of the business. So much so that many ways you could almost substitute the word brand for business.
Branding is a way of defining your business to yourself, your team and your external audiences. It could be called the business’ “identity”, but only on the understanding that it embodies the core of what the business is and its values, not just what it looks and sounds like. Customers of all sorts of businesses are so savvy today that they can see through most attempts by companies to gloss, spin or charm their way to sales.
The benefits that a strategically defined brand can bring are the same as when people fall in love with each other. When customers connect emotively — because they share the same values and beliefs of a brand — it leads to higher sales and better brand differentiation. It also leads to loyalty, advocacy and can even protect your price in times when competitors rely on promotional discounts to drive sales. It can also give you the ideal platform from which to extend your offering or range.
Here are ten tips on how to successfully implement branding for your business.
1. Start by defining your brand.
Review the product or service your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you in the market.
2. When building your brand, think of it as a person.
Every one of us is an individual whose character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and who we connect with. Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course for people it's intuitive and it's rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you're building a brand it's vital to have that understanding.
3. Consider what is driving your business.
What does it believe in, what is its purpose and who are its brand heroes. These things can help establish your emotive brand positioning and inform the identity and character for brand communications.
4. Aim to build long-term relationships with your customers.
Don’t dress up your offering and raise expectations that result in broken promises, create trust with honest branding — be clear who your company is and be true to the values that drive it every day.
5. Speak to your customers with a consistent tone of voice.
It will help reinforce the business’ character and clarify its offering so customers are aware exactly what to expect from the product or service.
6. Don't repeat the same message in the same way over and over again.
Alternatively, aim to make your key messages work together to build a coherent identity.
7. Don’t try to mimic the look of chains or big brands.
Try and carve out your own distinctive identity. There is a big consumer trend towards independent establishments, and several chains are in fact trying to mimic an independent feel to capture some of that market. Truly independent operators can leverage their status to attract customers who are looking for something more original and authentic, that aligns with how feel about themselves.
I hope I’ve opened your eyes to this whole new world that has been in front of you all this time. Every decision you make should be with your personal and business branding in mind. Your brand travels farther than you ever could, speaks to more people than you ever could and reaches deeper than you ever could. You need to make the choice now about what your ultimate goal for success and fulfillment is going to be. Then you have to figure out what type of branding will take you there, to the mountaintop, because ultimately it lies in your hands, there is no success or failure that is not directly related to your actions. ACT NOW!!!
A Few more tips:
As usual, marketers are turning hype into hyperventilation. This time, it’s about the supposed end of marketing as we know it, thanks to the rise of social media and the shift of power to consumers. But it’s wrong to think we’re entering a world in which traditional marketing activities, and brands themselves, will become irrelevant. In fact, the opposite is true. Social media make it more urgent than ever that companies get the basics right, developing and reliably delivering on a compelling brand promise.
It has always been risky for companies to disappoint customers, at least over the long term. But today the scale and speed of social media can make falling short instantly painful. Consider the internet-fueled backlash against Kryptonite’s expensive but easily picked lock and Dell’s flammable laptops. By the same token, companies that consistently deliver what they promise benefit mightily when social media amplify their reputation. The obvious danger is failing to keep pace with social media developments. But an equal, less obvious danger is getting distracted by them and losing sight of the fundamentals.
We’ve long worked on marketing strategy with companies across industries; over the past 15 years we’ve focused on new media, and recently on social media marketing. And we’ve been directly involved in successful new-media start-ups, including one specializing in customer advisory panels and online brand communities. Our conclusion? The companies that will succeed in this environment are exploiting the many opportunities presented by social media while keeping an unwavering eye on their brand promise, and they are judiciously revising the marketing playbook rather than trying to rewrite it.
Leverage Social Media
Most companies have cottoned on to social media as tools for engagement and collaboration. Marketers at leading companies have created lively exchanges with and among customers on sites such as OPEN Forum (American Express), Beinggirl.com (Procter & Gamble), myPlanNet (Cisco), and Fiesta Movement (Ford), tapping into participants’ expertise and creativity for product development. Of course, social media can also boost brand awareness, trial, and ultimately sales, especially when a campaign goes viral. More important for most companies, however, is that through social media they can gain rich, unmediated customer insights, faster than ever before.
This represents a profound shift. Historically, market research was product- rather than customer-centric: Marketers asked questions about attitudes and behaviors relevant to their brands. More recently we have seen the rise of ethnographic research to help them understand how both a brand and its wider product category fit into people’s lives. Social networks take this a step further by providing powerful new ways to explore consumers’ lives and opinions.
Procter & Gamble was an early adopter of social media; now all its businesses have sites aimed at specific markets and communities. Its feminine care group, appreciating the need to listen to rather than talk at customers, made sure that Beinggirl was less about its products than about the tribulations of 11-to-14-year-old girls—embarrassing moments, hygiene concerns, boy trouble. The site’s main value to P&G is not that it drives product sales but that it illuminates the target consumers’ world. Similarly, Amex uses OPEN Forum to learn about small-business owners, and Cisco uses myPlanNet to better understand the new generation of developers. These sites work because participants are engaged with the brands, find the platforms authentic, and trust one another. The companies create active communities by ceding some control—in our experience, often the hardest adjustment for marketers.
FoR Procter & Gamble, the main value of Beinggirl.com is not that it drives product sales but that it illuminates the target consumers’ world.
P&G recently encountered firsthand the dark side of social media—the speed with which they can spread damaging messages. After the company introduced Dry Max technology into its Pampers product line last year, promising extra protection and a less bulky diaper, Rosana Shah, an angry customer whose child had developed diaper rash, created a Facebook page dedicated to putting pressure on the firm to withdraw the product. Other reports of rashes and blisters followed, and by May 7,000 parents had joined Shah’s campaign.
Confident in its product’s performance, P&G stood firm. Its long experience in the category had taught it that some proportion of babies will always suffer from rashes, and the frequency of such problems hadn’t changed after the introduction of Dry Max. Aided by its well-established social media network, Pampers Village, and its Pampers Facebook page, the company made its case sympathetically but clearly. It responded to all complaints, offered advice to parents, and explained why the product wouldn’t be withdrawn. In September the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that it could find no link between Dry Max and the occurrence of diaper rash.
Far from curbing P&G’s enthusiasm for social media, this incident helped the company hone its approach. It plans to use greater prelaunch engagement through these channels in future to clarify expectations and enable an even faster and more effective response to any unexpected backlash.
Toyota, too, deftly used social media as part of its crisis management during the sudden-acceleration recall. It set up a team to monitor and respond with facts to rumors on Facebook and elsewhere, and created a Twitter presence for COO Jim Lentz. The team identified online fans and sought permission to distribute their statements through Toyota channels. Drawing on the company’s brand reputation—the reservoir of goodwill earned over decades of delivering on its promise of quality, reliability, and durability—it used social and other new media effectively to neutralize much of the hostility. By March 2010, when the recall was in full swing, Toyota sales were rebounding, with Camry and Corolla topping the list of all passenger-car sales.
Enhance the Playbook
Although any company’s decision about whether and how to use a new tool is situation-specific, all companies should incorporate social media into their marketing playbooks. But what’s the best approach? Our analysis of the strategies and performance of a diverse range of companies suggests that great brands share four fundamental qualities:
- They offer and communicate a clear, relevant customer promise.
- They build trust by delivering on that promise.
- They drive the market by continually improving the promise.
- They seek further advantage by innovating beyond the familiar.
These basics don’t sound like rocket science, but we’ve been surprised by how many companies still fail to get them right. Social media can be used to reinforce all four, even as they make them more urgent. Look at how Virgin Atlantic Airways has used social media to buttress the branding basics.
The customer promise.
Customers expect innovation, fun, informality, honesty, value, and a caring attitude from VAA. This promise is reinforced at every customer touch point, from marketing materials and the call center to travel agents and, increasingly, travel websites. VAA scans these sites (along with less obvious ones such as Camping.com and Mumsnet.com) to learn what people are saying. Where there is misinformation, the company rarely has to provide a correction, because site visitors usually do so themselves. Like other companies, VAA uses social media to check that the brand promise is both understood and relevant. It also works to keep all its social media activities true to and in support of the brand values. For instance, the most-read section of its Facebook page includes travel tips from crew members—communication that comes across as honest, informal, and caring.
The most-read section of Virgin Atlantic’s Facebook page includes travel tips from crew members—communication that comes across as honest, informal, and caring.
Obviously, trust is mainly about operational execution—service delivery. But keeping customers informed when things go wrong can prevent a slipup from becoming a trust-eroding PR disaster. Customers expect airline websites to be accurate and up-to-date. But during the volcanic-ash crisis last spring, VAA’s website couldn’t keep pace with the rapidly changing situation, so it used Facebook and Twitter to communicate with customers. This was well received by some, but VAA learned from irate callers and site visitors that it needed to do an even better job of providing information in a crisis. The company is modifying its site to include a “rapid response” link to real-time VAA updates on Twitter and Facebook. It sees the various social media as complementary: Fergus Boyd, Virgin Atlantic’s head of e-business, told us, “Twitter is no more than a sound bite. Facebook can be an article. The website is for in-depth detail. They all need to signpost each other.”
For VAA—and for most companies—the biggest social media opportunity lies in gathering insights to drive continual incremental improvements.
For instance, since its founding, in 1984, VAA has built its brand on the customer’s total experience, from her initial search for a flight to her safe return home. The proliferation of travel blogs has reinforced this emphasis. When the company learned that its loyalty-scheme members were complaining online about tedious, redundant requests for security information, it created a secure opt-in service to eliminate the problem. In response to online-community suggestions, it launched a system to arrange taxi sharing on arrival with passengers from the same flight. None of this represents a shift in strategy: The brand promise hasn’t changed, but social media dialogue has enabled VAA to keep improving its offer.
I’d definitely like to assist you anyway I can with your branding, not for any monetary gain, but for my own branding. The more people I help the better and more reinforced my brand becomes. The more i help people my brand grows stronger and more vibrant. Go to the contact page of this website and send me a message, you’ll be amazed what bouncing ideas back and forth can do for the both of us. I once helped a natural drink start-up develop a company name that spoke to the branding they wanted to anchor down into. After a brief 30 minute skype call we came up with the company name and they were extremely grateful especially because I asked for no consulting fee, but i got something in return which was a new distribution outlet for my products. So hit me up and let’s connect today.